Fresh demo farm for potato growers in the West

Potato growers in the West will have the opportunity to visit a new potato demonstration farm in Shropshire to see how to tackle challenges such as potato cyst nematode.

Situated between Shrewsbury and Market Drayton, Heal Farms – an estate specialising in arable and poultry – will take on the role of AHDB strategic potato farm for the next two-year term, replacing Staffordshire-based James Daw.

Growing 200ha of potatoes annually as part of a 1,600ha cropping area, the new location will continue to offer growers an opportunity to experience new technology and best practice through a series of open days and farm walks.

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Matthew Wallace, farms director at Heal Farms,  said: “A well as working alongside researchers and experts, it will be interesting to hear about the approach taken by other growers in the West at the open days and farm walks.”

On-farm demonstrations

The six on-farm technical demonstrations this year will focus on controlling the most serious pest in potatoes, potato cyst nematode, which a recent survey by Syngenta showed was affecting four out of five potato growers in the UK.

A range of complementary measures on the farm aimed at tackling the pest will offer growers a look at resistant varieties, trap crops, biofumigation and nematicide regimes.

Anne Stone, knowledge exchange manager for AHDB Potatoes, said: “Each farm has its own environment and challenges, so it is exciting to have an opportunity to see how effective the latest technology is when applied on Heal Farms’ Shropshire soils.”

The first farm walk is to be held on 6 June.